Because, in 2013, $7.25 is seriously not cutting it.
One of the most attentive features of President Obama’s State of the Union address the other night was his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $9. The move comes as a reaction to inflation, the higher costs of seemingly everything and the revelation of “Oh wait, no one can live off of $7.25” (let alone $9 too, actually).
So, as a result, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced yesterday that he has introduced legislation to bring that same level to New York State. If the bill is enacted, the higher minimum wage would begin next January, with inflation indexed in 2015.
But, of course, the bill has some sort of political subtext. Last year, Mr. Silver wanted to raise the current state minimum wage of $7.25 to $8.50. In Governor Cuomo’s budget speech a few weeks ago, he called Mr. Silver’s bluff and said $8.75 would be more properly sufficient for the State. And, now, Mr. Silver is using Mr. Obama’s speech as evidence that he meant $9 the whole time.
It’s common that states follow federal trends in situations like these; states peg their minimum wages to D.C. and build upon the federal as a default. But who knows what Washington will do in this situation. Congress has a hard enough time passing Sandy relief bills, let alone a minimum wage bump.
And, in this case, New York only moves if Washington moves. We’ll just have to wait and see.